December 6, 2023
Owl Mistakes Duck Egg For Its Own And Ends Up Looking After It Anyway

Owl Mistakes Duck Egg For Its Own And Ends Up Looking After It Anyway

As an amateur professional photographer and wild animals specialist, it was not a surprise that when Laurie Wolf discovered an Eastern Shriek Owl nesting in her Florida yard, she started taking photos to document the scene.

The brownish-gray owl had actually made a nest in a bird box that was located in her yard. The nest had actually also been seen previously by a duck. She began taking photos of the uncommon sight. After a short time, she noticed what seemed an owlet nesting in the box with its mom.

As an animal lover, Laurie excitedly watched the pair. She carefully waited for her first actual glimpse of the baby owl. When the day finally arrived, much to her surprise, it was not an owlet looking out of the nest at her. It was a baby Wood Duck!

She quickly took photos of the lovable pair and sent them into National Geographic. She told National Geographic, “The two of them were just sitting there side by side. It’s not believable. It’s not believable to me to this day.”

Obviously the owl had come across a wood duck egg and nurtured it as her own. Shriek owls and wood ducks are known to share a few of the same habitat so it was not completely impossible that something like this might happen although it was very unusual.

As natural birthed stealthy killers, shriek owls eat a diet of little mammals including mice, voles, bugs, reptiles, amphibians, and chicken, including ducks. So Laurie began to worry about the owl’s future intention with the duck so she called wild life experts for advice.

It was chosen that although the owl seemed content to be increasing the duckling as her very own, instinct may prevail and the duckling would certainly be much better off being moved to a safer location. However, that was not meant to be since the day Laurie tried to capture the little duck, it rapidly ran towards the pond and was never seen once again.

Although Laurie can not relocate the duck, she is hopeful the moms and dads live in the pond and they might be rejoined. She is impressed that she reached witness such a special pairing. “I do not think I’ll ever experience anything like that in my life again,” she said.

Christian Artuso, the Manitoba Director of Bird Studies Canada, discusses that this might have happened because wood ducks practice a habits called, brood parasitism. Brood parasitism is an avian reproductive strategy wherein the birds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds forcing the nest owner to raise their baby.

We can only speculate about how it became that the owl incubated the wood duck egg till it hatched, or what she was believing as she raised the tiny duckling, we do know the two were adorable.

We value Laurie taking the pictures for everyone to enjoy. Please share this special story with your family and friends.